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2011 Fall Movie Preview

It's that time of year again. We're gearing for the fall season. Football is back in swing. The weather is (slowly) starting to cool, and soon the leaves will be turning brown and falling to the ground. And what better time than now to break down some of the movies slated for release this fall? As I did with my summer movie preview, I'm not breaking down every single film scheduled for a release date. Rather, I'm counting down the twenty-five movies that I'm most excited to see from today (September 9) through Thanksgiving. So, without any further delay, here's my list, starting with number 25!

Margin Call
October 21
Directed by: J.C. Chandor
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci

While it's a little difficult for me to think that Margin Call isn't just trying to get the Academy's attention, there could be something rather brilliant hidden in this film. With an all-star cast sure to bring their A-game, we could be looking at a 21st-century version of Wall Street (and no, I'm not counting Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps as a legitimate entry). While I won't be making a drastic run to the theaters for this one, I'll definitely be giving it a view at some point or another.

The Rum Diary
October 28
Directed by: Bruce Robinson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins

When I first compiled this list, I honestly didn't know a ton about The Rum Diary. I was really giving it a nod based on the fact that it would be a Johnny Depp vehicle, and usually that's enough to get me to the theater (here's looking at you, The Tourist). However, I've since seen the latest trailer, and I have to say that my excitement level has spiked just a tad. We're getting a film from the mind of Hunter S. Thompson, whose mind also brought us the likes of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. We could be in for quite a trip, but most importantly, The Rum Diary could truly provide some much-needed entertainment. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Martha Marcy May Marlene
October 23
Directed by: Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olson, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Hugh Dancy, Brady Corbet

Martha Marcy May Marlene is one of those films that you would never hear about had it not performed well during its film festival run. When I first saw the trailer, I was a little confused about the film's scenario, but after watching it a few more times, I've gotten a bit of a grasp on it. I can honestly say that this looks to be a very effective dramatic thriller, and I can only hope the acting stays on a level field as well. It's not filled with familiar faces, but John Hawkes was up for an Academy Award last year, if that means anything to you.

November 11
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgård

I first heard about Melancholia a few months ago after it had a spectacular film festival run. A lot of the buzz about the film stemmed from Kirsten Dunst's stellar performance, and I've been eagerly awaiting the chance to see it ever since. I'm not quite sure whether I'll fall in love with the storyline or the plot, but if buzz is any indication, we could be seeing Dunst making a run towards an Academy Award nomination. That's how positive the talk has been. I just hope it lives up to the hype.

The Thing
October 14
Directed by: Matthijs van Heinjingen Jr.
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Eric Christian Olsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

What originally looked to be a remake of the 1982 film of the same name (which itself was a remake of the 1951 film The Thing from Another World) actually looks to be a prequel to the '82 flick. It should be telling the story of the disaster-fated explorers who originally found the alien creature in the Antarctic ice. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of remakes, but considering how much I enjoyed the 1982 film - and the fact that this film's lucky enough to have scored Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton to star - I think I just might have to give this new "thing" a chance.

Happy Feet 2 in 3D
November 18
Directed by: George Miller
Starring: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ned Beatty, Brad Pitt, Hank Azaria, Hugo Weaving, John Goodman, Ray Winstone, Sofia Vergara

I know, this is a little bit dorky, but I absolutely loved the original Happy Feet flick. I know a lot of people dissed it after it took a hugely environmental stance, but if you can look past that bit of politico, then you've actually got a rather interesting love story filled with some fantastic music. We'll have Wood and Williams reprising their vocal roles, and they're being joined by the amazingly all-star cast listed above. I'm not expecting this sequel to be better than the original film, but it should still be good for a little bit of fun at the theaters.

The Descendants
November 23
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Matthew Lillard, Beau Bridges

To be fair, I still don't know a ton about this particular film, but it looks to be a bit of an offbeat comedy in the vein of 2009's Up in the Air, which also starred Clooney. I used to be a bit against Clooney and his style of acting, but in the past few years, I've started to come around. While this won't be his biggest film of the fall, there still could be quite a bit to enjoy. It seems like a fun flick that should delve into some emotional traps. I guess we'll have to see how it goes.

September 16
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Henry Hooper, Jane Adams, Schuyler Fisk

I remember first hearing about Restless back in the early months of 2011, and I honestly thought it'd be hitting theaters a lot sooner than its September release date. While it seems like we'll be getting a double-dose of young-love films (see Like Crazy a few spaces down), I've started to grow fond of Mia Wasikowska since her breakout role in 2010's Alice in Wonderland, and the addition of Jane Adams to this particular film makes it all the more appealing for me.

November 23
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone

One of the most fascinating aspects of Hugo is that it's a Martin Scorsese flick, but what makes that interesting is that it's a venture into children's fare. It's a family film, not something typically associated with Scorsese's brand of cinema, but with him behind the camera, I personally think anything is possible. It'll be interesting to see how he takes this story and runs with it, but he's got an all-star cast (listed above) to help bring this movie to life. I for one am exceptionally excited to see just what Scorsese can do with this type of fare.

My Week with Marilyn
November 4
Directed by: Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams, Emma Watson, Dominic Cooper, Kenneth Branagh, Toby Jones

I'll be honest and say that I really don't know what to expect from this biopic other than Michelle Williams should be one of the leading contenders when it comes to awards this year. Having not received any type of trailer for the film, it's hard to judge whether it will be any good. Still, considering the film's subject, I can't help but think we'll be getting something decent. Sure, it could very easily be some Oscar bait, but sometimes Oscar bait manages to surprise and impress. Let's hope My Week with Marilyn can do just that.

September 9
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes, Elliott Gould

Normally, a film like this wouldn't necessarily pique my interest, but the caliber of cast and crew for Contagion is downright unfair. When you're cast list includes names like Damon, Cotillard, Winslet, Paltrow, Law and Hawkes, then you already have enough to make a stellar film; however, add the direction of a man like Steven Soderbergh, and we could be looking at one of the better thrillers of the year. Could it all get weighed down by the sheer number of big-time players? Possibly. However, I have faith in Soderbergh's direction.

Like Crazy
October 28
Directed by: Drake Doremus
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence

Like Restless, I'm really just interested in seeing Like Crazy for the hot young talent. The reason I've placed this film a little higher than the latter is the inclusion of Yelchin and Lawrence, one of my new favorite actresses to hit it big. While I'm not sure we'll be seeing anything terribly brilliant when it comes to the screenplay, you can be sure that we'll be getting some top-notch performances from our big three.

Real Steel
October 7
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Kevin Durand, Anthony Mackie, Hope Davis

While I admit Real Steal could turn out to be a horrendously terrible movie, there's something very attractive about the idea of robots duking it out in the boxing ring. Having the always interesting Hugh Jackman star in the film is probably the biggest draw - his charisma and personality alone would be enough to get me to the theater for this one. Still, I think there's an outside possibility that we could get something rather incredible. By taking the age-old boxing tale - a sport so perfectly adapted for film its insane - and blending it with the sci-fi realm, we could get something tremendous.

The Muppets
November 23
Directed by: James Bobin
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper

I grew up watching the Muppets and their many adventures, be it on the big screen or through television, so their return to the silver screen is definitely an exciting one for myself and many of the people I know. Sure, there's a huge nostalgia aspect, but with Jason Segel and Amy Adams taking leading roles - as well as Segel taking screenwriting credits - I have quite a bit of faith that this next Muppet adventure will be a magical one. If anything, it'll just be great to see all those fun-filled folks back on the screen, bringing laugh after laugh after laugh once again.

Red State
October 21
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Starring: Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, Stephen Root, Melissa Leo, John Goodman

When directors decide to delve into uncharted territory, I've found they have mixed results. With Red State, Kevin Smith is embarking into the realm of horror, a far stretch from the comedies he has produced over the past twenty years or so. And the transition doesn't even look to be a horror-comedy; Red State looks like it's going to be a politically-tinged thriller sure to tingle some spines. Still, there's that little bit of reservation considering Smith has never ventured into these dark waters before, so I can't be entirely sure of whether the film will be all that great. I've got my fingers crossed, though.

September 16
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks

The more I hear about this movie, the more my excitement builds. Putting Ryan Gosling at the forefront of any film is bound for some measure of success, but the possibilities behind this one seem limitless. Add the fact that the film already holds an 8.9 rating on the Internet Movie Database, and you've got one avid movie fan chomping at the bit over here. With a seemingly all-star cast and a fast-paced storyline, I'm expecting Drive to be a bit of a hit.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
November 18
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds

Oscar bait at its finest, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy looks to be the film that most Academy voters will latch onto relatively quickly. It's bringing together an all-star cast that's almost unfair to have while delving into political and espionage issues during the Cold War. It'll be the British movie that most American people will eventually flock to see, and although I don't know whether it'll make as big a splash as The King's Speech in 2010, I wouldn't be surprised if it received the same or similar accolades.

September 23
Directed by: Bennett Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Brad Pitt is always a draw for me, and sports movies generally bring me streaking to the theaters. Put the two together, and you've raised my awareness of this film tenfold. The fact that we're also getting a true story - and a relatively recent one, at that - out of this film makes it all the more appealing. A little off-topic to be considered Oscar bait, Moneyball looks to have a slew of fine performances and a captivating storyline, even if I already know how it's going to end.

The Ides of March
October 7
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright

I'll admit that I don't know anything more about this film than what's posited in the trailer, but I think that gives enough to give a sense of how good this film could be. It's Clooney's fourth directorial effort, and although his most recent (2008's Leatherheads) didn't "wow" critics, I have a feeling that this one might turn the tables back to his side. He's got an all-star cast to bring this one to life, much like he did with 2005's Good Night, and Good Luck., which ultimately nabbed six Academy Award nominations, including ones for Best Director and Best Picture.

Killer Elite
September 23
Directed by: Gary McKendry
Starring: Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen

I have a feeling that this one's going to fall into my list of guilty pleasures, but I will watch absolutely anything starring Jason Statham. He's the action hero of my generation, and he's simply fantastic in everything he does. Add the fact that we're getting some legitimate acting chops from Robert De Niro and Clive Owen, and we could have the makings of a decent action thriller here. Even if it's just a fast-paced, no-brained action flick, I'll still find a way to enjoy this one.

September 9
Directed by: Gavin O'Connor
Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Egderton, Jennifer Morrison, Nick Nolte, Noah Emmerich, Kevin Dunn

The local ESPN Radio station recently hosted a preview screening of Warrior near my home. Sadly, I wasn't able to make the screening, but I've continued to hear about the film's imminent release as a result. With rising stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton teaming with seasoned vets like Nick Nolte and Noah Emmerich, we could be in for quite a film here. Sure, it'll probably delve into cliché here and there, and we can tell from the trailer exactly where we're headed, but I think it might be more a focus on the characters than the storyline. That could make for a winning formula.

September 30
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston

To be fair, I'll watch anything starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He's one of my favorite actors, and he's definitely one of the best of this generation. This dramatic comedy looks as though it'll be pulling on our heartstrings a bit, and with an all-star cast, I'm sure they'll deliver readily. I may have my issues with Seth Rogen, but who knows - maybe he'll surprise me and break away from his typical character for 50/50.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
September 30
Directed by: Eli Craig
Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss

The premise alone would be enough to send me to the theaters for this one, and to be fair, that's one of the only reasons most people would go see it. With a cast devoid of any A-list stars, it might be difficult for some to find any other reason to head to the theaters for this one; however, we'll be getting Tyler Labine (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Alan Tudyk (Dodgeball) and Katrina Bowden ("30 Rock") to whet our appetite. I'm expecting outright hilarity in this one.

J. Edgar
November 9
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Josh Lucas, Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer, Dermot Mulroney, Judi Dench

For whatever reason, Leonardo DiCaprio has yet to win an Academy Award. However, if there was ever a time for him to break that streak, it's going to be this year with his role as J. Edgar Hoover, founder of the FBI. The fact that the film is being directed by the legendary Clint Eastwood only enhances the possibilities for DiCaprio, who I have to see as the current front-runner for the award. We'll see how it all plays out, however.

Piranha 3DD
November 23
Directed by: John Gulager
Starring: Danielle Panabaker, Katrina Bowden, Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey

If you've been following my blog from its very beginnings a year ago, then you'll know that I was a huge fan of the 2010 horror-comedy Piranha 3D. It's throwback to the B-movies of the 1970s was glorious to behold, and it left itself open for a sequel. Well, after grossing over three-and-a-half times what it cost to make, the studios gave the go-ahead for a sequel, aptly titled Piranha 3DD. This time, we're delving into residential areas, including a water park that becomes infested with the beastly little devils. My excitement level for this film is off the charts, and I simply cannot wait for its Thanksgiving week release.

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